California to End Tier System on June 15

April 6, 2021, 1:56 PM · The state of California will end its pandemic tier system and remove most restrictions on businesses on June 15, Governor Gavin Newsom announced today.

More than 20 million vaccine doses have been administered to the state's nearly 40 million residents, the governor said. (About eight million Californians are under age 16 and therefore unable to be vaccinated yet, so we talking about 32 million vaccine-eligible residents.) More than four million doses have been administered in what the state defines as vulnerable communities, as well, shifting the requirements for counties to enter the state;'s Orange and Yellow tiers.

That should allow San Diego County to enter the Orange tier, in which theme park capacity can rise to 25% and parks can allow indoor dining, but that move has not yet been confirmed by the state.

The tier status change also puts makes it easier for Los Angeles and Orange counties to enter the least-restricted Yellow tier, where theme parks can operate at 35% capacity. Both counties would need to see their adjusted Covid case rate per 1,000 residents drop below 2 for that to happen, and the earliest that the counties could move would be April 20. LA is now at 3.1 and OC is at 2.8.

But those capacity limits will go away on June 15 under the governor's plan. However, the state's mandatory mask order would remain in place. And the removal of the tier system is contingent upon vaccinations remaining available to all people ages 16 and older and Covid case rates continuing to fall in the state.

California currently ranks 49 out of the 50 states for new Covid cases per 100,000 residents. (For comparison for theme park fans, Florida's case rate is more than four times California's, and it is rising.)

I am looking for information whether the end of the tier system would mean that California's theme parks would be open to out of state residents again. That requirement was part of the state's travel restrictions in addition to the tier system.

It's also still up in the air whether parks will drop their advance reservation systems on June 15. Advance reservations have given parks greater control over crowd management, so it's possible that some parks will choose to hold on to that tool even as the state loosens capacity restrictions.

But the end of the tier system will allow parks to resume full operations inside the gates - including parades, nighttime spectaculars, theater shows, interactive attractions, playgrounds, and loading to full capacity on rides. (Welcome back, single rider lines!) Of course, "allow" and actually doing are two different things, as parks may adjust their operations at their own discretion after June 15.

Again, all this is assuming that the governor's plan holds. So if you want to want the full theme park experience this summer, get vaccinated ASAP.

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Replies (6)

April 6, 2021 at 2:16 PM

Theme park roadtrip starts in 71 days!

April 6, 2021 at 2:32 PM

Man there's been a flurry of news today and recently in general! But yes good news and I like the optimism. The mask mandate news is the next one to keep an eye out. Which theme park and/or state will be the first to drop it?

April 6, 2021 at 2:58 PM

@Manny Barron

It’s got to be Magic Mountain. From my sisters who work there, they been telling me that they’re already breaking protocols just to make a few extra bucks(Allowing non-reservations in, allowing mesh masks, expanding park hours and capacity, etc.

April 6, 2021 at 8:04 PM

This is very positive news, and definitely not something I was expecting to hear until after vaccinations had opened to everyone. Given that the process is beginning next week, two months should be sufficient time for everyone who wants a vaccine to get at least one dose before restrictions are dropped, and once that's done there isn't any justification to continuing them unless new evidence proves their necessary. The mask mandate remaining is a bit annoying (especially if it is kept outdoors during the summer), but if that's all that remains things will be far better than they have been since last March.

As for the out-of-state visitor rule, I wouldn't be surprised if that gets lifted before the blueprint goes away, but I fully expect California to require vaccination for all adult theme park guests coming from out of state (and possibly even in-state) beyond the end of the blueprint.

April 7, 2021 at 8:17 AM

Mask mandates will remain necessary, even after wide vaccination, because their functions are complementary. A vaccine prevents you from getting sick, whereas a mask reduces transmission; i.e., personal vs. population. So long as a virus is circulating among hosts, it will continue mutating, possibly into a form that evades current vaccines -- and "vaccine reluctance" may sustain that process for quite a while.

Do current vaccines reduce transmission? Will the next generation? How long until the U.S. attains herd immunity? Since global herd immunity will take longer, how many foreign variants will arrive (hence the third leg of the strategy, testing/surveillance)? So far, we (i.e., public health authorities) just don't know. The social and economic fatigue are real, but in medical terms, it's still the early days.

April 7, 2021 at 8:32 PM

Thank you, Robert, for keeping your ear to the ground on out-of-state visitors. I may not be able to go right away anyway (I get more vacation time in July -- I just used my last week of it until then) but knowing that while I live 15 miles away from California, closer than some residents who will be allowed to visit, but I would be denied entry if I went, kind of hurts. But I also get that we are living in interesting times, so I'm not angry or anything. It is what it is.

But it will be nice to know that if I chose to take my two days off, driving for 8 hours after my graveyard shift to SoCal, spending one day in the parks, then driving home the next day and getting a few hours of sleep before my next shift (not likely that I would run myself ragged like that), that it was at least allowable. As long as Disneyland has been closed, and living out of state, just knowing that the parks are open and that I would be ALLOWED to visit would put my mind at ease.

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